Seeing

Wonhyo, the Korean Buddhist monk’s story is really fascinating and profound. One day, he embarks
on a journey to China to get wisdom from great sages there. On his way, he gets stuck in a
storm and is forced to take shelter in a dark cave. In there, he feels thirsty and in the darkness,
he stumbles upon a vessel that is filled with water.
Thanking the fates, he drank deeply from it, and with full belly satisfaction, he shuts his eyes.
The next day, he discovers that the vessel in which he drank water was apparently a decaying skull
with maggots and old leaves in it. And the cave was in fact a tomb with plenty of skeletons in
his company.

He tries to vomit out the water and runs away from the tomb. But suddenly he understands something great.

” Yesterday, my throat was longing to quench the thirst and the body needed water. So, I drank from
a bowl in the cave. Morning, I find that it was a skull and I was in a cave and just before the discovery
I was thankful that I had a place to rest and a vessel full of water. After the discovery, the mind
interpreted that a tomb is bad and a skull is a pure disgust. But the skull and tomb were always
skull and the tomb. Even when I am gone, they are what they are. Without my mind, things are
as they are. Perception tricks us from perceiving reality and projects illusions and values.
What we think and how we think, the entire stream of thoughts shapes the world and what
kind of world we live in. Everything arises from the mind and when the mind shuts off, the world shuts off.”

We live in constructed stories. When the interpretation and perception change, the world
we experience as such also shifts into something else. Living by the images made in the past
doesn’t let us see the present.


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